Daily Struggle (Anonymous)

I’m 28 years old and just had my second child. My first is 7 years old and my most recent is almost 6 weeks old. After my first child I was involved in a few unhealthy relationships. In both of these, I was abused both mentally and physically. Part of the mental abuse included tearing down my self image and pointing out all of my flaws that I was told men would be disgusted with…my stretch marks and sagging breasts with large areola. Now that I’ve had my second child my body has changed again for the worst and all of those damaging statements flooded back to haunt me. This combined with my husband enjoying looking at other females has me fighting a daily battle with myself. I currently struggle with eating. I was 120 before my second pregnancy and gained 55 pounds. I’m currently at 140 but can’t eat. I try to stay positive with this website and positive quotes regarding self esteem and image but then I see my body in the mirror and I break down again. I see all of my flaws and new ones. My areola has gotten even larger and darker. My breasts sag even more and have lost more volume and breastfeeding. My stomach has even more stretch marks and is now longer flat like it was 10 mo this ago. My thighs have doubled in size. I have a tire around my entire midsection.

Most times I can’t even look at myself or others in the eye because I’m so ashamed. I wish more than anything I could be happy and love myself. But with the media/society along with previous men who have told me I’m not beautiful remind me of reality. This daily battle has affected my marriage and I’m afraid my girls will grow to see it. I tell them daily that they are beautiful in hopes that they never have to endure this emotional pain. I have often times turned to his website to help me knowing that there are other women out there who have had children and look beautiful in my eyes. You all truly are but I still can’t see it in myself. I have a consultation for surgery at 6 months post partum to make changes. Even that decision I am torn with. For now I will continue to try to win this fight although it is slowing beating me down.


Feeling Better About My Breasts (Sha)

Hello my name is Sha. I am a 23 year old, 5’6, 132 pound mama with one, perfect, healthy child. I had an “normal” vaginal delivery (helped along with a little Pitocin) with no complications or baby drama. My little girl was a healthy 7.12 lbs, 20 inches long! She was so beautiful (and still is)! Ever since I weaned my daughter from my breast at 14 months (~ 3 years ago), my breasts just do not look the way they used to, and I have finally come to the realization that they never will. I used to be a firm, solid C cup with cute little nips and now they are saggy, stretch-marked D’s with much larger aereola. I feel confident in a bra and sometimes I can’t even see the faint stretch marks that used to be bright purple, but when I am having sex with my husband (which is always naked), I feel like he is staring right at them (well… he DOES). I haaaaaate being “on top” for this reason. I feel like they “flap” around! He tells me that I am sexy and constantly makes dirty little comments about my body (what girl doesn’t like that?!) but I can’t help but feel like he is just doing it to make me feel better. I NEVER turn down his compliments or say, “You are just saying that” because I don’t want him to stop. I usually comeback with a “Thanks baby!”, or “Well it takes one to know one”, or flash him a dirty grin, etc., but I know what I see and I know it is the same thing that he sees. He seems like he is anti-breastfeeding now. I loved breastfeeding my daughter and definitely want to do it again with any future children, but every time we talk about it, he will be like, “Why would you put yourself through that again? Formula is fine. Plus it will help you go back to work”. It is a touchy subject and he knows the benefits of breast milk and the benefits for the mom, etc. I feel like since he knows all of this, he is really saying “What if your boobs get worse the second time around?!” I know he would never directly say that to me because he knows it would hurt my feelings, so I feel like he is trying to make other excuses. My belly went back to normal besides a few faint stretch marks on either side of my belly button, so there isn’t much “belly hate”. I have come to terms with my body and am trying to accept the flaws even though the memories of my “perfect” bod still haunt me.

Ambivalent Body Image – Struggling (Alanna)

Age: 24
1 pregnancy & 1 child
3 year old child

I want to start this off by saying that I have been following SOAM for a couple years now and never felt confident enough to submit my photos. I was in a very unhealthy relationship for 9 yrs with the father of my child. Just before I became pregnant, I was in the best shape of my life, I had never been more confident with my body image. I am a Martial Arts instructor. My pregnancy was extremely stressful, I had a partner who was abusing drugs and other non sense. I’m 5’2 and I weighed 130lbs before I got pregnant. At 9 months with my 8lb baby girl I weighed 185lbs. I wasn’t exercising during my pregnancy and could have been eating in a more healthy way. I wanted to have a natural delivery, but had to have an emergency C-section since my daughter was breech. After delivery, I was so unhappy with my body and i was still in an toxic relationship. I may have been suffering from PPD but I’m too proud for my own good most of the time and felt guilty telling the truth when i was assessed for PPD. I struggled with the pregnancy weight all through the first 2 years, I’m very active but I had to take control of my diet to get to where I am now.

I still feel like I am hiding. No one would believe it when I seem to be the most confident, bubbly and bad ass ( am I allowed to say bad ass on SOAM? Editor’s note: Hell yes you are!) lady that have ever met but I put on a good show. In actuality, my insecurities could eat me alive. My life has changed a lot in the past year as I got out of an abusive relationship and have been trying to find myself again after those 9 years. I just completed my first year of university. I’m a over achiever and a perfectionist, nothing is ever good enough for me. I am getting honors in school but its not good enough. I would consider myself a feminist and I am very aware of the false messages prescribed by the media to men and women concerning what the ideal body image is. I can think about it logically and I have great respect to the women who can take a stand against it but emotionally with myself, inside my own head I cant do it.

I guess I have my good days and my really bad ones. Some days I feel like it is getting better and I’m regaining my muscle definition. Its not my stretch marks that bother me but my loose skin and extra fat does. Everyday I run at least 3 miles and exercise, on top of my martial arts training and some days I feel like I’m seeing progress and other days I cant beat my naked self up in front of the mirror at least 4 times a day. I can take forever to get dressed, trying on pants after pants and hating how my tummy sticks out over top. I count calories obsessively and feel guilty if I don’t run far enough. I want exercise and diet to be a choice of health and not trying to achieve this aesthetic perfection.

Who would think a topless rights activist would be standing nude infront of her mirror eaten alive by her insecurities?

Everyone Tells Me I Look Fine… NOT (Christina)

Pregnancies/Births: 1 pregnancy 1 birth
Childs Age: 14 months

Ok so I was 196lbs in March of 2010. I went on weight watchers and got down to 160lbs. June 8th,2010 I stopped weight watchers and my doctor said I had gotten pregnant that first week of June. So long story short, nine months later, at 6:15 pm I delivered my first born. I delivered at 196. How ironic! Anywho, I am now 160 lbs again but I dont feel the same. My husband says that I look great. I dont think so.

I began purging around 17. Stopped for a couple years and then picked up around 6 months PP to try to drop a few extra pounds. I just cant get there. So its off and on now.

Before my son, I had a navel piercing. After I gave birth it stretched out and now looks kind of funny. My breasts sag and I really dont like that. As far as stretchmarks, I got a few more than I already had on my sides, and my stomach ones are centralized around my navel. So although I didnt make out too bad, Im still not 100% comfortable in my “new” skin. Everyone tells me that “I’m a tiger (a mother) that has earned her stripes”. Its an empowering quote but then I look in the mirror. I want to lose 10-15 more pounds.

I would ultimately like to have another kid but when I look in the mirror I am not sure. I am afraid of the effects it will have on my body. Hubby says he loved me at 196, and loves me at 160. But I dont love myself enough yet. I feel like sometimes I am all over the place with my emotions. Just hope I can get a grip. Im tired of everyone telling me that I am trying to get to small. I know where I want to be, and if I cant get there then I will never be happy. The pics are at 39 weeks and now.

Mother of One (Anonymous)

Age 21; Pregnancies 1; Births 1. I had to have my son by c-section after 16 1/2 hours of labor and never dialating past 1 cm. I was 18 when I become pregnant with my son and 19 when I had him. He is about a year and a half now and he is my everything. My pregnancy was a fairly normal, smooth sailing one. Besides going over my due date by 4 days and being induced. I was 120 pounds and in VERY good shape when I become pregnant, I didn’t recieve stretch marks until about 37 weeks and the were on the bottom of my stomach and on my sides. After having my son all those stretch marks came up and were everywhere! I have them on my inner thighs, butt, breasts and of course my stomach. I was very ashamed about my body for a long time, I didn’t even want my fiance to see me with clothes off. But one day he just sat me down and told me that there was no reason to hide, he loved me for me and my stretch marks didn’t bother him. This summer I have decided to wear a bikini again, I am very nervous but I am not ashamed anymore. I wish I could go back to my pre-pregnancy body but I have this one b/c of my amazing little boy and I wouldn’t trade that for anything! The picture is my stomach now.

Turning Trauma into Triumph (Raashida)

Age: 26
Pregnancies/births: 1/1
1 year post partum

I am so glad I found this website! Here is my story: I had a petty easy and uneventful pregnancy. I had few to no pregnancy symptoms. Food craving, a little emotional and hypersensitive sense of smell but that’s about it. I was active duty military when I had my son and towards the end of my pregnancy I had a routine appt with a really rude and nasty, insensitive doctor. I call the commander and told him that I did not feel comfortable having my baby on base and begged and cried (literally) to be referred to an off-base hospital but they did not refer me and when I went into labor and showed up to the hospital that same horrible doctor was on call and it all went downhill from there. He talked down to me and told me basically that I didn’t go to medical school therefore I didn’t know what was going on in my own body. I was talked into getting an epidural and pitocin which put my son in distress and after 23 hours of labor I was rushed in for an emergency c-section (by a different more awesome doctor)

I was horrified and traumatized by the whole event not to mention this is my first baby and for a while I didn’t want anymore children. I filed complaint against that doctor and wrote him several letters letting him know how his terrible bedside manner forever changed my life and my view on doctors in general. For the first few weeks I did not feel connected to my baby because I was so distraught over having to lay on the bed and have him cut out of me when it could have been avoided. I felt very alone and depressed. Eventually I came out of the cloud and now I wouldnt trade my baby for all the stars in the sky :)

I struggle with my post baby body and disfiguring c-section scar and the painful memories that come rushing back every time I look at it. I don’t think I look horrible but I definitely don’t feel sexy anymore. I haven’t really worked out consistently since having my son so I know I could look a lot better with a little effort. (I am in the process of getting a personal trainer) I did bind my belly immediatley after surgery which helped tremendously in weight loss and shrinking my belly back down. I also breast fed.

Perfectly Imperfect (Blondiebroken)

I am a teen mother, I got pregnant my first time having sex at the age of 17. I am now 19 years old and my son is 19 months old. When I was pregnant I had gained around 70-80 pounds and now that I am 19 months P.P. I still have 20 or 25 pounds to lose. It’s hard for me to lose that extra pouch of skin, I just get so jealous seeing these other moms who have a tight body, even after pregnancy. I am ashamed of my stretchmarks, but I am NOT ashamed of my son. It’s summer time now, I still dislike my body, but I am able to show it off when in public and I’m not ashamed of it. I am only ashamed of my body when in private areas, I will not admit my fears to random people and this is a big step for me to post something as personal as this. When I see these ladies on this site posting pictures of themselves and they’re afraid to even wear a low cut shirt, it makes me really sad. A lot of women after pregnancy can’t get back to pre-pregnancy size and it is a sad thing but it’s also a new step in your life that not many other women(those without children)will ever accomplish, you have :) don’t be ashamed of the marks. I just wanted to say that even with a child, you can still be sexy and show it off. I have the new form that I am gonna have to live with, whether I like it or not. One day I do hope to love my body 100% of the time.

1st picture-Before pregnancy
2nd picture-41 weeks pregnant
3rd picture-After son was born <3 4th picture-After pregnancy; Stomach from side 5th picture-Close up of my stomach and stretchmarks 6th picture-At the beach and in a bikini 7th picture-My son <3 Age: As stated above, 19. Number of pregnancies and birth: 1(for both) The age of your child, or how postpartum you are: 19 months old and 19 months P.P. [gallery]

Young and Blessed (Cara J.)

I got pregnant at the age of 18 and I remember everything so vividly. It was November 29th (my birthday) and my bestfriend and I went to go get piercings. I already had the top of my belly pierced so I wanted to get something different and get the bottom done. I remember on the consent form it asked if I was pregnant and of course I said no because I just couldn’t be! So December comes and the week my period is supposed to come, it doesn’t. I call my boyfriend and tell him I think I’m pregnant so we go get tests and sure enough they come out positive! I was shocked, scared, and mad at the same time! But as time went on and I heard my little baby’s heartbeat I instantly fell in love with this life inside of me. I was due August 21st and it was fastly approaching. I had a wonderful and healthy pregnancy. In April I found out I was expecting a boy and was so excited because there were so many girls in my family and he would be the first boy. I was 8 months and had not one stretch mark. The next month is when they attacked and I was horrified of the sight! I never thought about what my belly would look like after the baby until I saw my first stretch mark. I was 4″11 and weighed about 120 before I got pregnant and had a nice flat tummy. Towards the end of my pregnancy I gained about 30 pounds and it was all belly. Some people even thought I was carrying twins! Anyways, my due date comes and goes. I was a week overdue when I got induced. I was probably in the hospital for a couple of hours when the contractions started coming back to back. Boy were they intense! All of sudden I felt a gush of fluid. I thought I went to the bathroom on myself so I got up to go to the bathroom. When I stood up I noticed the fluid was still gushing and when I looked down it was all blood! My boyfriend called for the nurse and when she came in and saw all the blood she instantly rushed out of the room. I was so scared because I didn’t know what was going on. I had planned on having a natural birth and going home right after, but it didn’t happen the way that I had hoped. A doctor that was on call that night came in to do an ultrasound and didn’t say anything for awhile. After a few minutes he tells the nurse that I have to have an emergency c-section due to a placental abruption! The doctor said if we didn’t hurry my son could die. I was so scared that I started to cry. My boyfriend was there the whole time and cried with me until it was time for them to roll me into the operating room. They gave me the meds and after about 10 minutes my healthy baby boy was born crying that cry that I loved so much. Carsen Lyle was born at exactly 4:00am weighing 7lbs 7oz. The crazy thing about that weight was that, that’s what I weighed when I was born! It wasn’t the birth I planned on, but all I knew is that I had my son in my arms. I was lucky considering I didn’t know how serious a placental abruption was until very recently. After all the drama at the hospital and when I got home is when I started noticing how ugly my stomach was. I didn’t dwell on it because I was thinking, Hey Im young, it’ll go back to the way it was. But I was dead wrong. I am so insecure about how pudgy my stomach is that I’m always wearing sweats and big t-shirts. I’ve been working out as much as I can with my little guy and school, but it seems like a slow process. Even when I feel insecurities arising in my mind my boyfriend looks in the mirror with me. We look at my stomach, my stretch marks, and my scar and he always tells me I have the most sexiest body he’s ever seen and would love me no matter what. He always makes me feel better and tells me that he should be the only one I’m trying to impress even though he loves my body more than I do. Even though I still look at my stomach in disgust sometimes, I look at my son and see how lucky I was to have this stomach. Not many people can look at their pudgy tummies and be thankful for it. I’m working on it day by day and I will eventually get there. Thanks for reading my story :)

Age: 19
Number of pregnancies: 1
Age of your children: 7 1/2 months

Trying to accept the unexpected.. Again (Ish)

Well I will try and keep this as succinct as possible though I do tend to ramble once I get going.

In January 2009 I found out I was pregnant, unplanned and completely unexpected as I was on the contraceptive pill. I was 20, had been with my boyfriend a year (he already has a gorgeous little girl from a previous relationship, now aged 2 years and 6 months) and I had just been accepted to begin a university course in September 2009. Quite obviously I wasn’t ready to be a mum but at the same time I had always said even though I am one hundred percent pro choice that I don’t think I would ever be able to go ahead with a termination no matter what my situation was. To cut the story short, it turns out you can never say never and I did end up having an abortion at 9 weeks pregnant. I will still never be sure if I made the right decision but I am trying day by day not to dwell on that because there is no point stressing on things that can’t be undone. It took me a while to realise this however and about 6 months after the termination (June 2009ish) me and my boyfriend split up. This was mainly because the shame and the guilt that I felt and was keeping to myself was just constantly on the edge and I was pretty much a mess and a complete bitch to be with. I told him I felt like I was the only one that was hurting from all of this, and he didn’t support me and blahblahblah but really I just wasn’t letting him in and I was too wrapped up in my own pain that I couldn’t see his.

Fast forward to September 2009 and we’re back together, thank god, because I realised what a good thing I was messing up and well, we love each other and that’s really all that seems to matter. Fast forward again to January 2010 and tada! I’m pregnant unexpectedly again (this time on the Depo injection). I cried, I’m sure he cried and we both thought about nothing else for a good 2 weeks straight before deciding that this had happened through all the odds, a second time around, and it must be for a reason.

I am now 22 years old and 24 weeks pregnant with the most lively little boy growing inside me and I am absolutely terrified but so excited to meet him. My relationship with my boyfriend is the best it has ever been but I do find myself at least (!!!) once daily irrationally imagining that he is going to up and leave me as soon as the tiniest flea sized stretch mark appears on me. I am 5’1, very petite but with 32dd boobs (which are already up to an E cup, nooo!) and I’ve gone from 105lbs to 123lbs, so not a massive amount but being so tiny I just dont know how much my body is going to be able to handle! I have never liked my body, even though I have no reason, but various events (including the termination) have killed my self esteem and I am really really really trying to not stress and to just enjoy being pregnant because so far I am amazed and already completely in love with this little man that I haven’t met yet. This site and all your stories have made me realise that women are fabulous – look at what we do! – and I hope one day I can be half as inspiring to someone as you all have been to me.

Pictures are literally as of today, officially 24 weeks.

~Your Age: 22
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies, 0 births yet!